Recently in popular culture, some of the most successful movies and television shows have challenged the traditional roles assigned to women. We see it in sitcoms, dramas, comedies, and even in the Disney films we sorority girls love so much. We see a spectrum of characters who attempt to represent femininity or what it means to be a woman through entertainment. Whether this is done so by a female character who embodies strength, power, intelligence, or submission, we can either relate to or to reject these portrayals. In our millennial culture, we coined a new term to represent this constant growth and shift taking place within female roles. I’m talking about the “new modern woman.” The thing I love about this term is that it doesn’t represent a single image. It represents all of the roles that we, as women, have the right to play. This isn’t “Mad Men.” We exist in a place and a time where we have the luxury to choose between being the housewife or the CEO. We can be the mother, the boss, or both if we’re particularly badass.
You may wonder what this has to do with “Scandal.” Well, I’m here to brag on Shonda Rhimes’ ability to not only create amazing dramas (hello “Grey’s Anatomy”) but also her ability to create strong female characters played by some of the most talented TV actresses out there. She has taken the concept of representing the multifaceted roles women play and worked it into one of the most exciting and highly talked about shows on TV. Let’s all pour an Olivia Pope-sized glass of red wine, put on our white hats, and take a closer look at the ways the leading ladies of “Scandal” represent the new modern woman.< Warning: there are spoilers ahead.
“Everyone has secrets…and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) has dedicated her life to protecting and defending the public images of the nation’s elite by keeping those secrets under wraps. Pope’s team are at the top of their game when it comes to getting the job done for their clients, but it becomes apparent that these ‘gladiators in suits,’ who specialize in fixing the lives of other people, have trouble fixing those closest at hand–their own.”
“The newest member of the team, Quinn Perkins is a baby lawyer with a secret past and a lot to learn. “
Although she has most recently gone rogue by joining the fearless and terrifying assassin group B6-13, you have to give credit when credit is due. Even under the pressure of coming back into her own after living under a false identity, with the help of Huck, Quinn has become a tech savvy and talented top secret CIA official. It takes a special type of woman to be able to get her hands dirty in order to serve her country. Torturing traitors who threaten national security and being a grade-A hacker may not be the ideal way to prove you have the guts and technical chops to hang with the boys, but it’s something. Quinn represents the new modern woman because she’s physically strong and technologically talented, all while wearing a pair of hot stilettos. She has brains, beauty, and a dark side.
“Abby Whelan is the firm’s crack investigator. Outspoken, indomitable and always willing to spar, Abby takes her work seriously and never suffers fools.”
Abby doesn’t take crap from anybody, not even from her boyfriend David Rosen, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. If you’re looking for this girl to back down once she sets her sights on something, you’ll have to wait longer than you did to get to the front of that Luke Bryan concert. Abby has an amazing ability to dig up dirt on the most protected profiles by interrogating like no other–I could have definitely used her during recruitment. As a domestic violence survivor, we know that the harder you beat her down, the stronger she builds back up. Abby represents the new modern woman because even after suffering physical and emotional abuse, she was able to fight back and become one of Olivia Pope’s gladiators. She’s compassionate, caring, and intuitive, but don’t take those as weaknesses. She listens to her heart and her head, which gives her an edge that’s unique to the group.
First Lady Mellie Grant
“Melody Grant is the beloved First Lady of the United States of America. But beneath that saccharine smile is an iron-hard will and indomitable political savvy.”
Mellie Grant has a sharp tongue and even sharper wit to back it up. Being the first lady of the United States is a challenge for this woman because deep down, she knows she is better suited for the presidency. She is graceful, educated, and tactful. Even with skeletons in her closet and full awareness that her husband, President Grant, is completely in love with Olivia Pope, she does what needs to be done to keep the Grant administration afloat. As Cyrus’s partner in crime, nothing gets past this duo, and they will do everything in their power to protect Fitz. Mellie represents the new modern woman because even under all of the pressures that come with being the first lady, she handles it with poise and true influence. Mellie doesn’t stand in the wings silent while Fitz soaks in the spotlight and makes all the decisions. She is just as vital as he is when it comes to running the best nation on Earth, and not to mention, she constantly sports bigger hair than a southern sorority girl. I’m totally jealous.
“Olivia Pope is a fixer. The best in D.C. A title earned first by getting an underdog candidate elected President. What makes Olivia Pope the best is that she doesn’t fix problems. She fixes clients. She fixes people.”
Last but not least is my professional idol, Olivia Pope. She is a crisis manager and owner of Olivia Pope & Associates. By fixing problems and protecting public reputations, she has devoted her life and safety to solving crimes in honor of doing what is right. With a father who is the former head of B6-13 and an international terrorist for a mother, it comes as no surprise that Olivia Pope is the complete foil of her parents. She drags those who are in trouble, damaged, or frightened back into the “light” with the help of her team of gladiators and the White House. She may not have the best track record when it comes to love–we can’t ignore the fact she’s involved in a heated affair with the married president. Olivia Pope represents the new modern woman because she knows how to run an empire even when it is continuously under fire. She makes tough decisions, she does what is morally right, and she sacrifices her own wellbeing and safety to protect others. She also does all this under a time crunch and an insane red wine buzz. I can barely protect my own reputation after several glasses, let alone someone else’s. So here’s to Olivia Pope, a woman who knows how to hold her own in drinking and in her high profile career.